The federal government has shown support to herdsmen on their planned moves to sue governors of southern Nigeria for signing into law, anti-open grazing bill.
A number of states in the south including Oyo, Enugu, Lagos, Ondo, Rivers, Osun, Akwa Ibom States and some others, signed the bill into law, a development that makes provision for imprisonment at varied durations in some states.
The Special Assistant (Media) to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr Umar Gwandu, who disclosed this in an interview with The PUNCH, said Nigerians whose rights had been violated could go to court to seek protection.
The PUNCH reports that the Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore group while reacting to the passage of the law in the southern states, described it as ‘satanic’ and ‘politically motivated,’ adding that it would sue the governors over the law.
The National Secretary of the group, Selah Alhassan, Sunday, issued the threat that the group would sue the southern governors.
Gwandu, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “The rights trampled upon are individual rights of Nigerians as constitutionally guaranteed.
“The Nigerians whose rights are violated reserve the right to approach the court for the protection of such rights within the context of freedom of movement among others. It will be viewed with that consideration in mind.”
Meanwhile, Police in several states are discordant in their willingness to work with states in the enforcement of the law.
It is reported that the state Police Command in Ebonyi State says it will arrest and prosecute violators of the anti-open grazing law in the state.
The Commissioner of Police in the state, Aliyu Garba, stated this in a telephone interview with a correspondent in Abakaliki, on Sunday.
When asked if the police would enforce the law, Garba asked, “Why not? We will arrest and prosecute offenders. Come with a complaint and see whether it is not going to be attended to.”
Also, the Ogun State Police Command through its spokesperson, DSP Abimbola Oyeyemi, said in Abeokuta, that it was ready to implement the anti-open grazing law in the state as soon as possible.
While Rivers State’s Police Commissioner, Friday Eboka, said he has not seen any copy of the law, a Rivers Vigilante group, Diobu Security, through its Chairman, Prince Amatari, claims it will enforce the law better than the Police will, owing to its presence in the rural areas.
Reacting to the readiness of the police command in enforcing the anti-open grazing law in Lagos State, a police source according to The PUNCH, said the responsibility of the police was to provide security for the enforcement team established by the state government to enforce the law.
In Ondo State, the Security Network Agency also known as Amotekun stated that enforcement of the law had commenced as some herders and cows had been arrested and dealt with according to the law.
Its Commander, Chief Adetunji Adeleye, said a number of cows and herders had been arrested and they were made to pay fine and signed an undertaking not to violate the law again.